05/27/2013 10:00 EDT | Updated 07/27/2013 05:12 EDT

SNC-Lavalin Offers Whistleblowers A Limited-Time 'Amnesty' Offer


MONTREAL - SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX:SNC) is making a limited-time offer of "amnesty" to those at the company who are willing to report on corruption.

The company, which was hit by allegations of bribery and fraud last year, said Monday that it won't seek damages or unilaterally fire employees who voluntarily report violations of its code of ethics.

To qualify, an employee must file a request between June 3 and Aug. 31.

"Amnesty programs are known to be highly effective means of getting to the bottom of ethics and compliance issues in large organizations," said Andreas Pohlmann, SNC's chief compliance officer.

"While the vast majority of SNC-Lavalin's employees will have nothing to report, this offer of amnesty will allow us to uncover and quickly deal with any remaining issues. Our goal is to turn the page on a challenging chapter in the company's history, so we can focus all of our attention on creating value for our stakeholders."

The amnesty won't cover executives in SNC's office of the president, its management committee groups or anyone who directly profited from a violation.

SNC is undergoing both internal and police investigations on alleged fraud and corrupt practices in Canada and abroad by some former employees.

Subsidiary SNC-Lavalin Inc. and more than 100 affiliates have also been barred from bidding on World Bank Group-financed projects for 10 years following allegations of bribery involving a bridge contract in Bangladesh.

Former CEO Pierre Duhaime and another former SNC top executive, Riadh Ben Aissa, are facing fraud charges stemming from a contract involving the building of the multibillion-dollar McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

Duhaime was relieved of his duties in March 2012 after an independent review showed he signed off on $56 million in payments to undisclosed agents.

Duhaime has been charged with fraud over $22.5 million in payments relating to a hospital project in Montreal. He has pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and issuing false documents.

Ben Aissa was arrested in April 2012 in Switzerland on suspicion of corruption, fraud and money-laundering in North Africa.

Ben Aissa's brother, Rafik, has filed a lawsuit alleging the company caused him harm for using his brother as a "scapegoat" while protecting its interests in Libya in the face of political change.